Resignations and foregone confusion

New Premier Dominic Perrottet

Forum –

What a few weeks it has been.

First, we had the resignation of ex-Premier Berejiklian in circumstances so malodorous that they make the fiscal shenanigans of our federal cabinet members seem like nothing more than politics as usual.

In the grand tradition of de mortuis nil nisi bonum, Berejiklian was immediately heaped with praise for her handling of the pandemic, whereas, in fact, with the exception of Victoria, her performance (egged on by the PM) was worse than that of any other Premier.

Her generally lacklustre performance as Premier won’t leave much of a mark in the record book but there is still the promising possibility of much material for the tabloid press to latch onto, as the ICAC investigation wends its turgid way to a conclusion.

She has been closely followed into the top job by now-Premier Perrottet (“New Premier must return focus to the people”, Chronicle, p10 Oct 6) whose first actions don’t bode well for a science-based approach to an exit from the pandemic.

It is known that Perrottet favours a “we’ll see how many die and let God sort them out” approach, so it would not be surprising if case numbers rise in coming weeks, just as we seemed to be getting the problem under control.

The spread of the virus in Central Coast is worrying enough now, without the prospect that Perrottet’s policies could make it worse, although the uptake of vaccinations is encouraging and might see us through the crisis point without overwhelming the hospital system.

Hardly had we recovered from the Berejiklian bombshell than Deputy Premier Barilaro also announced his departure from politics.

If there was a rational reason for this decision, it did not appear in the interviews that he gave subsequent to the announcement, and, of course, this will only stoke speculation and rumour-mongering about another ICAC investigation to come.

The best explanation offered by political pundits was that Barilaro could not stomach being Deputy under Perrottet, because, whatever influence he had on Berejiklian, it was plain that Perrottet would not be as sympathetic to National Party priorities and that it was better for him to retire unbloodied and leave the inter-party conflict to a successor.

Finally, on the home front, the (Public) “Inquiry” (into Central Coast Council’s financial crisis) descended from drama to farce, with the streaming fiasco reducing the whole exercise to a laughing stock.

An organisation that can’t even set up a working Zoom link these days must be plumbing the depths of incompetence, suggesting that what little expectation we had of the exercise from the start will prove to be optimistic.

Added to the confusion over who will give evidence and the see-sawing pronouncements about access to written submissions, the whole operation suggests a rudderless craft with no identifiable destination and a crew haplessly bailing just to keep it afloat.

The Commissioner must be desperately regretting her unfortunate decision to shoulder this undertaking and wondering how she can emerge with a shred of credible reputation left.

Still, perhaps it was always intended that the Inquiry end in confusion and chaos, so we’re only seeing the anticipated scenario played out.

Email, Oct 9
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy